Children and the Internet – this is a hot topic and unfortunately the common view or focus that schools, educators and parents have on this is negative. We have all heard about and worry about our children dealing with Internet issues such as online stalkers, cyberbullying, pornography sites etc. I worry about it! BUT, I also think the Internet is GREAT and that there are lots of interesting ways to learn online. I also think it’s important for my own children to be ICT savvy.
So the problem that I see right now in schools (and in some families) is that this focus has turned into FEAR because it makes sense that we only hear of the BAD stuff that happens online. The good stuff in life doesn’t always make the News! The FEAR is compounded with a major lack of knowledge/skills – let’s face it, kids today are generally more digitally inclined than a lot of the teachers & parents out there.
I am not recommending that we don’t teach about the dangers of cyberbullying and online stalkers but we should also be teaching about the BENEFITS of the Internet.
The benefits of a digital footprint
It is important to discuss why so many Internet sites are blocked at schools. One of the major reasons is the fear that students will find disturbing webpages and will use social media inappropriately. Concerns about information sharing and cyber-bullying need to be analysed and students should be engaged in critically thinking about how they can manage their online connected lives.
The advantages of a digital footprint and how to increase your digital footprint should be a major teaching focus so that students can see the benefits of acting responsibly online. Examples of professionals who have developed their digital footprint to gain employment and widen their professional networks must be acknowledged and explored. The teacher as responsible ICT learner is the ideal role model.